It’s the end of an era for Disney’s kids and family programming. Gary Marsh will be ending his 33-year executive tenure at the company when he steps down as President and Chief Creative Officer of Disney Branded Television at the end of 2021. He won’t be leaving Disney though — Marsh will be launching his own production company backed by Disney General Entertainment. Under a rich multiyear production deal, Marsh will be developing content for Disney’s streaming and linear platforms including Disney+, Hulu, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, ABC, National Geographic, Freeform and FX.
Marsh is currently finalizing the first projects on the inaugural development slate of his company, including two new Descendants movies, extending the popular Disney Channel movie franchise; the Beauty and the Beast prequel series starring Josh Gad and Luke Evans, which was recently greenlighted by Disney+; as well as projects Tink, a take on Peter Pan‘s Tinker Bell; Witch Mountain, a new installment in the popular Disney franchise for Disney+; and School for Sensitive Souls, an original music-filled animated story. On Beauty and the Best, Marsh joins Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis; on Witch Mountain, a reinvention of Escape To Witch Mountain, he is working alongside writers Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett and producers John Davis and John Fox.
The geneses of the current move to producing is believed to date back nearly two and a half years ago when Marsh, then President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide, started conversations with the Disney leadership. Marsh agreed to stay on through Disney’s acquisition of the Fox assets and the company’s subsequent November 2020 reorganization under Peter Rice, Chairman, Disney General Entertainment, which saw Marsh take on an expanded new role as President and Chief Creative Officer of Disney Branded Television, overseeing all Disney-branded television content made by Disney General Entertainment for kids, tweens, teens and families, as well as unscripted series and specials.
Rice is said to be zeroing in on Marsh’s successor, with Marsh on board to help with the transition for the rest of the year.
“Gary’s leadership and creative genius have shaped a generation of beloved kids and family programming, and we are forever grateful for the indelible impact he’s made at The Walt Disney Company,” said Rice. “Gary is a valued leader and good friend, and we’ve been talking about this move for years. So when he decided to focus solely on producing after three decades of an amazing executive career, I jumped at the opportunity to keep him among us.”
Marsh joined Disney Channel as an Executive Director of Programming in 1988, steadily rising through the ranks for the last 33 years and held a President title at Disney Channels Worldwide from 2005 until his Disney Branded Entertainment promotion last November.
One of the producers Marsh has worked with in his current role is Melvin Mar, executive producer on Disney+’s Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.
“It’s always hard making television shows,” Mar said. “But Gary is one of those rare execs that has a knack for helping you push your creative instincts a little further than you thought possible. He’s supportive from the outset and the direct, honest conversation is what makes you love being in the trenches with him.”
During his executive career, Marsh developed and oversaw such signature Disney Channel franchises as the blockbuster High School Musical and Hannah Montana as well as hit series/movies Lizzie McGuire, Descendants, Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, The Proud Family, That’s So Raven, Jessie, Andi Mack and The Owl House. Additionally during his tenure, he launched the Disney Junior Channel along with such hits as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Doc McStuffins, Elena of Avalor and Sofia the First.
Through the years, Marsh is credited with launching and developing the careers of such young stars as Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, the Jonas Brothers, Zendaya, Demi Lovato, Shia LaBeouf, Hilary Duff, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Olivia Rodrigo and Debby Ryan. Programs overseen by Marsh have received dozens of Emmy and Annie Awards, as well as Peabody, Humanitas, Imagen, GLAAD, Gabriel, Christopher and Kid’s Choice Awards.
“For 33 years, I’ve had the greatest job in television,” said Marsh. “The stories we’ve told, the music we’ve created, the stars we’ve discovered, the franchises we’ve built – all of it has entertained and engaged millions of kids and families around the globe. Thanks to the reach of Disney’s streaming platforms, those stories will live forever in the hearts and minds of future generations, alongside all the new stories I look forward to telling. There simply could not be a more compelling or creatively stimulating time to enter the production ranks.”
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